Monday, May 28, 2012

cards 1-4 in the Etteilla tradition

I thought it would be fun to compare not only different cards but also different books and booklets that went with the cards. In my view the booklets that go with most of the extant decks that people have are deficient, compared to the c. 1838 "Julia Orsini" Art de Tirer les Cartes that I found at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. They all leave out the word-lists, which I think are pretty important, because everything seems to flow from them. For the rest, it is a good thing that they provide the original French, because although the English translations are 98% accurate, the other 2% includes some major errors. I will post the original French of the Orsini for the first four cards when I have gone through all four.


This card has on it the astrological symbol Aries. As far as I can tell, it has no other significance than as the first sign of the zodiac, corresponding to the first card. Etteilla introduced astrological signs so that one could interpret a horoscope using his cards. Since the signs play no role in the interpretation of the cards, the Etteilla II and III omit them.

In the second Cahier Etteilla identifies the card with the Pope card of the standard Marseille decks, or Jupiter in another deck (the Besancon), which he erroneously presumes reflects an earlier convention:
This allegory, formerly no. 1, was listed as no. V; and in place of the emblem of a unique Motor, a pure light, dreadful Ignorance was first to put on this card a Jupiter, then a Pope, and in third place a Swordsman (Fr. Spadassin); error that seems to us ridiculous...
I do not know in what deck the card is represented by a swordsman

Now I will (1) give some examples of card 1: in the top row, the original 1789 (from Wicked Pack of Cards) and two of Sumadi's Etteilla IIs ( and (; in the bottom row, one of his Etteilla IIIs (, and a 1910 Etteilla I downloaded from

Then I will (2) give the word list. I collated three versions: Revak's translation of Papus (; Stockman's translation of Papus (in The Divinatory Tarot, p. 20); and Orsini's list in the c. 1838 Art de Tirer les Cartes, p. 154. I posted the French for this list in #69 of this thread.

Then I will (3) give Orsini's comments on the card, from the "Explication" section of the c. 1838 edition. I posted the French in #69.

Then (4)  I will give what I found in a c. 1910 Grand Etteilla booklet.

Finally, (5), I will give what is in the modern Grimaud Grand Etteilla booklet.

I also consulted an 1890 Grimaud Etteilla I booklet. It turned out to be a greatly abridged version of the "Explication" section of the Orsini book's 2nd edition, c. 1853, of which the Dusserre booklet (to their Etteilla III) is the uncondensed. Unlike the Dusserre, it preserves the paragraphing of the original.

Here are diferent versions of card 1.

Etteilla's comment on this card in the Second Cahier, as translated earlier in this thread (#78):
...the first sheet, listed no. 1, ... represented...a light surrounded by a thick cloud, or the chaos which was turned back in order to give place to the Truth, at the moment when the Creator manifested his glory and his sovereign bounty to the Creatures of the whole Universe, who slept and will sleep again in his intelligence: allegorical truth, indeed worthy of our first Masters.
Now the word list. Words that are in either translation of Papus, and also in Orsini, are in regular type. Those in Papus only are in italics; and those in Orsini only in bold.
1. ETTEILLA. God. All-Powerful, Eternal, Very-High, Unitrine, the Supreme Being, the Central Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Male Consultant, Chaos. Thought. Meditation, Contemplation, Reflection, Concentration.
Reversed: [Le Questionnant.] THE MALE QUERENT (CONSULTANT). The Universe. The physical man or the male. The querent. Philosophy. Philosophical. Philosophically. Philosopher. Sage. Sagacity. Sagely.
Now comes the Orsini "explication" of the card, c. 1838, to which I have added comments in brackets (in part comparing the c. 1838, my main text, with the c. 1853 in Dusserre). I use the original paragraphing, which Dusserre ignores.
No. 1. The Chaos

Etteilla - The Enquirer (male)

This card represents the chaos, the spirit of God: it represents also the one who interrogates the oracles by means of the book of Thoth.

If you are reading the cards for a man and this card doesn't appear, you will take it from the deck and put it at the beginning of your line, without counting it with the others.

If you are reading the cards for a woman, you must withdraw it, it is useless, and replace it with no. 8.

This card means discovery, meditation, a deep mind [esprit profonde, which also can mean "profound spirit"; "discovery" and "meditation" seem derived from the Upright list, and "esprit profonde" from the Reversed].

If this card comes up in its natural sense and is found near cards no. 14, 17, or 18 it is an unfortunate sign. [14 is The Devil; 17 is Death; 18 is The Traitor. These cards apparently bring out its negative sense of chaos.]

Near no. 76, error; near no. 71, loss [c. 1853 has "small loss"] of money; no. 47, lack of success. [No. 76 is "Embarras," Trouble; no. 71 is "Argent," Money; and no. 47, "Reussite," Success. Card no. 1 thus negates these three cards, when it is right side up. So it is again taking the negative meaning "Chaos."]

It is a good omen whenever it falls between two favorable cards.

Upside down, it means that the Enquirer is a philosopher; it predicts glory for him, immortality (that is to say, his name will go down to the most remote posterity).[This of course comes from the Reversed word-list, although you wouldn't know that from Papus's version.]
Next, here is what a c, 1910 booklet. says. First it says that it is a favorable card if the cards around it are favorable, and if it is near 14 [Devil], 17 [Death], or 18 [Traitor], it is unfavorable. It goes on to say that  it needs to be replaced if drawn for a woman, because it represents the male consultant only.After that n it adds,
This tarot generally signifies lack of success, in its natural sense [i.e. right side up] or otherwise. However, if it appears between other happy cards, one could say it was a good omen. Between a King and a Queen, it signifies marriage, grandeur, success, fortune.
"Lack of success" correlates to the "Chaos" keyword; this meaning looms larger in this booklet than in the others.

The booklet that comes with the modern Grand Etteilla calls the card "Chaos." It adds
This card wherever it is placed always represents the man consultant. But this does not mean it is devoid of a particular meaning of its own.

R [Right-side up]: Moral qualities (virtue, kindness) which benefit the consultant. [This interpretation would seem to derive from the words in the Uprights' list pertaining to God.]
U [Upside-down]: The consultant will show that he possesses intelligence [esprit] and talent. [This might relate to the Orsini Reversed word "Sagesse," and the Orsini explication's "deep mind."]
It then repeats Orsini's comments about 14, 17, 18, 71 ["slight loss of money"], 76, and 47. It ends
Between a "King" and a "Queen" it always indicates a forthcoming marriage, a happy affair [liaison], obvious success.
The modern Grimaud has for keywords R "Ideal/Ideal"; U "Sagesse/Wisdom". These clearly derive from the Orsini Upright and Reversed lists.


Now I will give some examples of card 2, followed by the interpretations. I think three will suffice, the 1910 Etteilla I from, an Etteilla II of Sumada’s, ( and his La Rue Etteilla III, from 1865-1890,

Etteilla's comment on this card in the Second Cahier, as translated earlier in this thread (#78):
...the Sun is the instrument by which the Creator appeared in order to light up the life of all Beings; as the Sun, it carried itself to all the Globes of our Universe. These Globes can be nothing other than the proper matrices to receive life, that one might compare to a fluid that contains and transfixes all of Nature, since it is the true spirit of the Lord, the Sun that vivifies all the embryos, enfuses itself so that all the Globes are necessarily people, or matrices, which the order of all things demonstrates: gold, and also coal, being matrices, from the moment that Nature animated them, or Art revived them.

The second sheet of the Book of Thoth bears effectively the number of 2 in the translation, and not that of XVIIII. It had, following the Ancients, and has at present according to our studies, a second number, which is also 2, and finally a third number, which is 1...

This second sheet, listed number 2, offers for allegory a Sun. ...This second sheet, as we have said, bears also the number 1, relative to the six days of creation: the light was called day, and the darkness night; and it bears the number 2, the Fire, second Element.
In the last sentence of the first paragraph, by "Art" I think Etteilla means, for gold, alchemy. It was thought that base metals were gold in a state of arrested development, and alchemy could make the process continue. I am not sure what process he is referring to when he mentions coal; perhaps it is the making of charcoal out of wood or hard, high temperature coal out of soft coal.

In the second paragraph, Etteilla states explicitly that his card no. 2 corresponds to card 19 in the standard Marseille order. I have omitted his justification that this card has the number 1 as well as 2, and therefore corresponds to both the 1st day of creation and the 2nd element. He has a pseudo-Pythagorean table of correspondences in which 1 corresponds to 12, 2 to 11, etc.; 2 is thereby associated with 1 (see my post #78). As with card 1, we are in the first day of creation; but instead of merely light, we now have “day,” and instead of chaos, we have “night.”

Now for the word lists. Words that are in either translation of Papus, and also in Orsini, are in regular type. Those in Papus only are in italics; and those in Orsini only in bold.
2. [Eclaircissement.] ENLIGHTENMENT —Light, Explanation.—Clarity. Glory. Heaven and Earth.—Philosophic Sulfur. Untangling. Development. Instruction. Opening. Analysis. Discovery. Interpretation. Revelation. Elucidation. Fire. Sun. Temple of Heat.

Reversed. [Feu.] FIRE.—Heat, Glimmer.—Conflagration.—Flame, Passions.—Meteors; Lightning Flash, Thunderbolt.—Inner, Outer, Central, and Philosophic Fire. Warmth. Small illumination. Spark. Ray of light. Burning. To burn. Ardor.
Fire of love. To light. Flash. Thunder. Lightning. Electricity. St. Elmo’s Fire. Fire of Nature. Magnetism. Salamander.
Dissension, Discord in the spirits. To throw one’s fire. To pass through one’s anger. To make fire.
The Reverseds correspond to the 2nd of the four elements, Fire, as indicated by “2e. Element” on the card. It is as in Plato’s Timaeus, where the Demiurge creates the world from the four elements.

Here is Orsini's commentary on the card, c. 1838, with my brief comments inserted and longer ones after.
You see on this card the fire, the light that illuminates us; its proximity is always favorable. The two children who are found in this second tableau announce a large posterity.

If it is for a man that one consults, it signifies explanation, disentangling, glory, interpretation of the most secret things, rewards.

If it is for a young person that you do the cards, it predicts marriage following. For a [young] lady, it predicts children.

For an older lady, it says that soon her qualities will be noticed by an older man, who will come to offer his heart and his hand, and what will indeed be preferable, [c. 1853 replaces “and...preferable” with “accompanied by”] a large fortune.

Placed near no. 13, this card announces a marriage either just made or about to be made.

Near no. 58, it provides hope of children; and near no. 72, it means rewards or honors.

Reversed, it signifies fire, anger, discord. Beside no. 21, betrayal discovered by you, victory over your enemies, and invincible obstacles to a marriage strongly desired.
My comments: The upright meanings partly come from the word lists, partly from the children on the card and their happy relationship, which is then generalized to a marriage. Or it might be that these meanings come from a tradition in which the Sun card had either children (as in Vieville and Conver, left and right below) or a male-female couple (as in Noblet, center below); and in addition the Sun, in gray Paris, was a sign of happiness.

If one were using this section of the book to interpret the Etteilla III card, as Dusserre intends, the querent might reasonably wonder what on the card suggests children or marriage!

No. 13 is “Mariage/Union”, so the prediction of marriage when next to 13 is natural. I do not understand the relationship of children to 58, “Journey/Declaration.” No. 2 makes No. 72, “The Present/Ambition,” a favorable card. It also makes No. 21, “Dissension,” favorable to the querent.

This time I am going to include an 1865 booklet written for the Etteilla III. It deletes the references to the children pictured on the card (since there are no children pictured!). It also simplifies the predictions and makes a few of them clearer:
You see the sun; it is the natural light; the neighborhood of this tarot is always favorable.

When the consultant is a man, it signifies glory, grandeur, success.

For a young person, this card announces a marriage following very closely; for a lady, it advises that she will have beautiful children.

Placed near no. 13, it announces for the female consultant balls, festivals, parties of pleasure.

When the consultation is made for a man, it predicts honors and rewards, and if no. 21 is found in the line, it announces a desired union.

It is a card that much affects an oracle, because it is generally favorable.]
The c. 1910 Etteilla I booklet calls the card “Hiram’s Freemasonry.” The booklet that comes with the modern Etteilla I deck gives it the same title, in contrast to “Light” (Lumiere) previously. The modern booklet follows with
This gives you a clear-cut view of life. It often opens up new and interesting possibilities.

R [Right-side up]: After a frank discussion the lovers are reconciled. With 13 – great sentimental happiness, probable marriage, especially if 13 is placed before 2.
U [Upside-down]: Do not let anger dominate you. It will be harmful. With 75 – worry, disagreement. With 21 – betrayal.
Except for “clear cut view of life,” there is no explicit reference to the word lists in the generic and right-side up interpretations. Here the c. 1910 version of this booklet is clearer.
If this card is shown reversed, the two children who are upside down announce a violent quarrel, and obstacles to their projected sweet union.

If this card is in its natural position, it promises an explanation that will lead to a reconciliation.
The Sun enlightens, hence the explanation. Further,
It announces also, in a young person, the development of brilliant qualities which assure an adorer.
Again there is an analogy to the Sun. It might also be that the Noblet was seen as showing a reconciling couple, and that this interpretation of the Etteilla is a continuation of that. Likewise, the Vieville shows a young person full of brilliance.

Going back to the modern Grimaud booklet, in the Reverseds: no. 75 is “Noble/Child.” Perhaps the way in which "anger" becomes "worry, disagreement" is that association with nobility moderates and elevates the emotion.

The c. 1910 Etteilla I booklet only gives the associations to 13, 58, and 72, giving associations similar to Orsini's. Continuing where I left off:
In the neighborhood of no. 13, this card announces a marriage about to happen, if no. 13 follows, and a marriage [already] made, if no. 13 precedes it. Next to no. 58, this card promises children; next to no. 72, it announces a prize of honor, a reward, a flattering distinction.
The keywords on the modern Etteilla I card are “Ecclaircissement/Enlightenment – Passion/Passion.” These come from the word lists. The astrological sign on the Etteilla I is Taurus.


Now I will give some examples of card 3, followed by the interpretations. Here are three, the 1910 Etteilla I from Sumada’s Etteilla II, date unknown but before 1890,, and his second Etteilla III, date unknown but 1890-1917,

Here is Etteilla's comment on this card in the Second Cahier, as translated earlier in this thread (#78):
No 3. The third sheet has for allegory the Moon, and bears the number 3 for the third day of creation; that it gives its jet; and thus the number 1 Water, first element.
As I said earlier, I can't find anything in Genesis corresponding to the phrase "qu'elle donne son jet." The closest I find is verse 9: "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place..." But it is obvious enough that water is a theme of that day, namely, the creation of the Seas by separating the water from the land. Etteilla is ignoring the part where on the third day God created plants. The Etteilla II card corrects that omission, giving for its title "Les Plantes," and even, on p. 13 of the c. 1838 book, "Les Plantes et les Arbres," the Plants and the Trees.

Now for the word lists. Again, words that are in either translation of Papus, and also in Orsini, are in regular type. Those in Papus only are in italics; and those in Orsini only in bold.
3. [Propos.] COMMENTS. (Proposal, per Papus translator, Talk in Dusserre).- Conversation, Symposium, Design, Resolution, Will, Discourse, Reasoning. Discussion, Speak, Prattle, Chat, Discredit, Babble.-Cackling, Malicious Gossip, Calumny, Defamation, Decree, Deliberation.-Moon.

Reversed: [Eau.] WATER, Fluid Water, Dewy, Ablution. Pouring Rain, Deluge, Inundation. Sea, Stream, River, Tributary, Spring, Torrent, Fountain, Brook, Lake, Swamp,Stagnant pool, Sheet of Water/groundwater, Pond.-Humidity, Waterfall. Waves. Mist [Vapeur imprégrée], Smoke, Mercury, Waters of Chaos, Philosophic Water.-Odor, Wintry Weather, Frost, Snow, Exhalation, Evaporation.-Instability, Fickleness, Silence.-Murmur.-Patience.
The Reverseds correspond to the 1st of the four elements, Water, as indicated by "1 El." on the card. Papus’s list uses water as a metaphor.

Here is Orsini's commentary on the card, c. 1838, with my explanatory comments in brackets.
This card represents the moon, the water, the land, the night; it means bad talk, defamation, gossip [discours].

Near no. 23 [Q. of Batons: Woman of the Country], it announces news [i.e. Talk] from the country. Alongside no. 21 [Dissension], it predicts discord caused by words with two meanings.

If the enquirer is a sailor, this card announces far-off journeys, useless searching, lost time.

For a young person, it predicts tears. If the card is found preceded by no. 45 [5 of Cups: Inheritance], it announces that the person's tears will stop at the news of an inheritance.

Followed by no. 39 [Page of Cups: Blond Young Man], she will marry a young, rich, blond man. Near no. 47 [3 of Cups: Success/Expedition], one will peacefully attend a banquet.

Near no 67 [Page of Coins: Brown-Haired Young Man/Dissipation], it predicts that some disagreeable people will introduce themselves to you on a visit; it will come to nothing if no. 3 is presented right side up, but they will cause many wrongs to you if it is presented upside down.

Inverted and next to cards not mentioned above, it announces that a friend or relative will take up your cause with an influential person.

If the Enquirer is a young person, a party in the country to which one is invited will be upset because of rain.
Here the majority of the associations have to do with the Upright meaning of the cards. When they do pertain to water, the card is sometimes Upright (sailor, tears) and only once (party spoiled by rain) Reversed. Exactly how the disagreeable visitors relate to the meaning of card 2 is unclear: perhaps they are like a flood.

The c. 1853 edition of Orsini changes "defamation" in the first sentence to "tittle-tattle" (the French word is "cancans"). The c. 1910 Grimaud Etteilla I booklet adds that the talk around one is slander [calumnie] against one only if the card is near no 18 [Traitor], and otherwise of no importance. Also, if the Enquirer's card, 1 or 8, is near, there will be litigation (another form of Talk) that the person will win if the two cards are both upright. Near no 47, the banquet will be in a peaceful place, with lots of punch and warm beverages (i.e. fluids). It says nothing about news from the country when near 23, but does predict rain for one’s party there.

The most interesting changes are when the card is near 67, the Page of Coins. The c. 1853 Orsini says, after saying that there will be unexpected disagreeable visitors, that if no. 3 is reversed, then one’s plans will fall apart; what that has to do with the visitors is unclear. But water, in the word-list, is a source of evaporation and instability. In the 1910 Grimaud, however, we learn that the disagreeable visitors are thieves.
Alongside no. 67, this card warns that thieves will come into the person’s house. If no. 3 is upright, they will steal nothing. They will do great damage if no. 3 is reversed.
The modern Grimaud simplifies all this. It says that if 67 is near, there could be thieves. If 1 or 8 is near, the person will win his or her lawsuit. Near 18, beware of slander. It omits all of Orsini’s mention of sailors, tears, rain, the country, banquets, and people with influence. But it does include Orsini’s point about proximity to 21 meaning disagreements. As for the inheritance, it is expected when no. 39, the blond young Page of Cups, is near. Before, he was a source of wealth by marriage. I suspect that the modern writer put down 39 by mistake.

For the basic Upright and Reversed meanings, the modern Grimaud booklet says: if right side up, there will be “long and animated discussion with friends”—much less negative than Orsini. If upside-down, “calm your desire for change.” From the Reversed word list, this uses both “patience” and “fickleness.” In the word list, water is a metaphor for peace and calm as well as change and disruption. More generally. says the modern Grimaud, the card signifies “negotiations and talk.” Orsini’s account was considerably closer to the negative, dark meaning of the Marseille Moon card from which the Etteilla card derives.

One thing that I wondered about was whether the metaphorical sense of water, as change and calm, may have been added by Papus himself. The c. 1838 is mostly quite literal in its use of the concept of water. But even there, the banquet is peaceful, like calm water, and the visitors harmful, like a flood. By c. 1853, plans evaporate. So probably water was taken metaphorically to some extent all along, whether explicitly in a list or not. Then in the modern Grimaud the meaning of “water” is all metaphorical. It is not even one of the keywords. Those are "Discussion” and “Instability." “Instability” is on Papus’s word list but not Orsini’s.

The title of the card is similarly distant from the Creation: Instead of "Plants," we have “The Order of the Mopses.” That title, which is also used in the c. 1910 booklet, I think refers to a whimsical 18th century crypto-Masonic secret society ( Perhaps the title was suggested by the dogs on the card, because the society’s chief cult-object was a pug dog, or “Mops,” whose hindquarters the initiate was required to kiss while blindfolded; it then proved to be made of wax or wood. An engraving depicting this most solemn ritual may be seen at As may be seen, the Mopses admitted both men and women.

[Added June 12: One more interpretation to add to the mix is the c. 1865 (Cerulean in post #90). It says
Here is a tarot that represents several things: plants, water, earth, moon, or night. Without doubt it would be of a difficult interpretation if each thing should have a different sense; but the neighborhood of the other cards much modifies or changes its signification.

Near no. 23, it predicts that you will receive news from the country, bouquets, flowers.

Near no. 45, it predicts an inheritance; while beside no. 47, it advises that you will attend a considerable feast.

When this tarot comes reversed, it advises of slight annoyances, parties in the country adjourned, dark weather; it always announces excessive cold.
This is merely Orsini simplified, without its darker suggestions, minimizing alarm to the querent and increasing the chance of a successful prediction.]


Now I will give some examples of card 4, followed by the books’ interpretations. Here are: the 1910 Etteilla I from; Sumada's Etteilla II, before 1890,; and his second Etteilla III, 1890-1917,

Etteilla has converted the bird on the Marseille Star card to a butterfly. On the Etteilla II, I seem to detect a river or lake to the left of the figure (left white on Sumada’s card), corresponding to a similar body of water on the Star card. The artist might even have wanted to suggest a waterfall. The Etteilla III’s different design is, I think, inspired by some of what Etteilla says in the second Cahier. There Etteilla begins by saying, as translated earlier in this thread (#78):
No. 4. The fourth sheet has for allegory the Stars, and was by the Cardmakers called “The Star,” because it showed there some Stars: I explain otherwise the figure in its proper nomination, titled by its day of creation: expanse [etendue, probably a word for “firmament”]; the number of the Element that it bears is 3, Air.
It is the 2nd day of creation, when God creates the “firmament in the midst of the waters,” divides the upper waters from the lower waters, and calls the firmament “heaven.” Appropriately, the Orsini title for the card, which appears on the Etteilla III, is “Le Ciel,” “The Sky.”

Etteilla talks again about card 4 when discussing card 6. It is this part that relates to the changed design of the Etteilla III
This sheet primitively offers a Zodiac; and I believe, without rejecting anything that I have said about the fourth sheet, that the Cardmakers have moved a part of the sixth sheet onto the fourth
Of course in Etteilla I and II we don’t have a Zodiac, just the seven planets. Etteilla III gives us 13 stars on the outer circle, where signs of the zodiac are typically put.Then it has some other celestial bodies closer to the middle, probably representing planets.

Another place Etteilla talks about the card is on p. 94f, in the middle of a discussion of alchemy.
[p. 94.] Take the fourth page of the Book Thot, 4. 8. 12. or the Deck of Cards named Tarots (of which the root is A Rosch, which signifies beginning(1), it is necessary to turn thus: Who does not have the beginning of the Science or the Doctrine, abuses himself in believing that he can understand the middle and the end;) the hieroglyph that the Ignorant have called The Star (there was always [il y en a toujours eu]) is the second day of Creation.

The Egyptians put on this page the animal, which is the figure triphibie [three-sided?], soul life and body, androgyne or male and female, and seen as neuter, keeping both sexes, and having in it the four elements and the three principles.

They also put the vegetable (2), which [p. 95] is also triphibie [three-sided?], soul from Nature, life from it and body, having the same three principles and four Elements, & in its neutrality giving root, trunk and branch, and from them leaves, flowers and fruits.

They have also traced on this page the mineral, placed between the heel and the knee of the other leg of the figure; this metal is also triphibie [three-sided?], having in it the three principles and the four Elements.

[Footnotes] (1)See the eighth volume of M. De Gebelin.
(2)From the tree which is in the fourth page of the Book of Thot, most of the Cardmakers have removed the Butterfly that the Egyptians put there. At Strasbourg, it is not; at Bordeaux, they have put a Bird.
My comments: (a) Etteilla's comments indicate that the androgynous appearance of the figure is intentional. It has alchemical significance; in alchemy hermaphrodites were shown as such. (b) In another footnote, p. 35, Etteilla attributes the Star card with a butterfly to a Strasbourg cardmaker named Benoit. Kaplan, vol. 2 p. 345, shows a Star card by Benois of Strasbourg, c. 1780; I see no flying creature of any kind; but there might be something on the side of the tree that I can't make out. (c) Etteilla does not specify on p. 94f what the “three principles” are that the animal, vegetable, and mineral all share. But on p. 92f he talks of sulfur, mercury, and salt as three principles that are in all three kingdoms, animal, vegetable, and mineral.]

Now for the word lists. Again, words that are in either translation of Papus, and also in Orsini, are in regular type. Those in Papus only are in italics; and those in Orsini only in bold.
4. [Dépouillement.] DESOLATION. [Deprivation, per Dusserre]—Privation, Destitution, Abandonment, Test, Extract, Audit, Sorting Out, Separation, Untangle, Go Deeper, Deprive, Take off, Remove, Plundering, Despoilment, Theft, Loss of Help. Violence. Removal. Fraud, Swindle, Infidelity.

Reversed: AIR, Wind, Storm, Atmosphere, Climate, Dryness/drought, Heaven/sky, Stars.—Birds, Subtle, Volatile, Tone.—Mannerism, Affectation, Gait, Appearance, Physiognomy, Resemblance.—Vague and Without Substance.—Arrogance, Haughtiness, Importance, Song, Music, Melody. Birth air. Similitude. Manner. Allure. Shape. Semblance. Beautiful seeming. False seeming. Fake. Feign. Dissimulation. Hypocrisy, Acoustic. Aerial. Sylphe. Chant. Tone. Light discourse.
The Reverseds correspond to the 3rd of the four elements, Air, as indicated by "3e. Element" on the card. Both lists use air as a metaphor.

Here is Orsini's commentary on the card, c. 1838, with my explanatory comments in brackets.
The Egyptians took much care in the explication of this card: they regarded it as their bad star. It signifies deprivation, theft [c. 1853: considerable loss], hypocrisy.

If the Enquirer is a lady, this card announces that she has been slandered by one of her best friends [amies, female]. But if it is right side up, these slanders will soon be brought to [the light of] day and cover with ridicule her who will have imagined them.

Reversed, it predicts thunderstorms, terrifying noise, presence at a concert, hurricane, shipwreck.

Near no. 17 [Mortality], it announces an illness, but of little danger. Near no. 71 [money problems], it predicts a loss of little importance.

If it is between two favorable cards, its prediction will be modified.

Beside no. 20 [Fortune], it predicts that some speculators want your fortune, and that you should keep on your guard.
The Reversed meanings seem to trade on the negative aspects of air. In that respect, this card is much like the preceding one, water: storms and floods both do much damage. In the Uprights, this card is negative in the present but positive in the future: slander will be exposed, an illness won't be serious. That was the traditional meaning of the Star card: hope in the darkness. On Etteilla's card, the lady is dumping out the jars, a loss. But the outcome is not so bad.

The 1865 booklet (French text,to appear later) modifies Orsini somewhat.
The signification of this tarot appeared to the cartomancers of antiquity as an unfavorable omen; but they supposed, in that that case, that it came up in the company of tarots of unfortunate presage.

If it is accompanied by no. 20, it tells you to take care of your fortune and your reputation.

Near no. 17, it announces news from a far-off country.

If it is reversed, it predicts that you will be surprised by rain, if you persist in making the journey to the country of which you have spoken recently.

If it is for a lady, it announces very beautiful surprises.
This simplifies the c. 1838 and avoids its most disturbing aspect--the suggestion of slander--but keeps a hint of it when it mentions "reputation" near 20. The illness formerly predicted near 17 is changed to "news.
The c. 1910 Grimaud booklet keeps the c. 1838's negativity and even increases it. It continues to predict slander, illness, and loss, but with different details. Here is the whole entry.
This card right side up announces a secret that will be revealed one great day, and which will dissipate some slanders. A woman will make a confession that will surprise many; a black hypocrisy will be discovered.

Reversed, this card promises a cold that the person for whom one reads will catch in leaving the bath; or, if the person does not bathe, in leaving the bed.

Beside no. 17, reversed, this card announces a grave illness in which the person will make a singular confession.

If no. 17 is upright, there is a serious danger; not that the person is menaced with death, but the confession that the fear will make him make will compromise his repose. Beside no. 71, this card announces a bankruptcy in which the person for whom one consults will lose a little money.
And here is the modern Grimaud’s English version, which continues the negativity:
Usually from all points of view this card signifies loss, especially when it is the right way up. Nevertheless it brings enough lucidity to face events.

R[Right side up] Revelation of a bitter secret that will be detrimental to you.
U [Upside down] Do not catch cold. Avoid going on any kind of cruise.

R near no. 17: serious illness and the end of a misunderstanding.
U near 20 – Bad reputation. Near 70 [Mean person] – Handle your own fortune in either stocks or real estate etc. Near 71: Loss of money.
"Revelation...that will be detrimental to you" is a new twist, one that departs considerably from the previous interpretations and also from the traditional meaning of the Star card. To an extent, the departure is only in the translation. The French text for R and U in the same modern booklet is rather different.
R: Revelation, dissipation d’un doute [dissipation of a doubt], opiniâtreté [stubbornness].
U: Pièges à éviter a tout prix. [Traps to be avoided at all costs.]
The modern Grimaux keywords are Revelation/Maniere d’Etre (Behavior). “Revelation” isn’t part of the original word-list. It seems to come from Orsini’s giving a positive outcome to a negative situation, that slander will be exposed. That in turn comes from words such as "triage" (sorting out) and "debrouiller" (untangle) on her word list (less so in Papus's). Thus there is hope. In that way, the word "Revelation" is a better characterization of the Uprights than the wholly negative "Depouillement", i.e. "Deprivation."

“Maniere d’Etre” isn’t part of the word-list at all and is too general to be a good characterization of the Reversed meanings.

The Grimaud title is “La Piscine,” meaning “The Pool.” The English text has “The Swimming Pool,” but that seems absurd, given the lack of such structures on the card. The Orsini title, “Le Ciel,” may equally not have anything to do with the portent of the card, but at least it fits the right “day of creation.”

Perhaps “The Pool” was an esoteric title of the Marseille Star card, now applied in a new context. My view is that the body of water in the Marseille Star card is, among other things, the Lake of Memory, and the water being poured there the water of memory. The drinking of that water allowed Dante, at the end of the Purgatorio, to remember his good deeds and so ascend to Paradise; in ancient Greece, it allowed those undergoing ecstatic experience to remember it later, and so foresee the future, as described by the Roman-era travel-writer Pausanias. There is a tradition that Conver wrote "L'ESTOILE" so that it looked like "LE TOULE," The Spring in local dialect (see my post #66 at From Le Toule comes La Piscine.

Card 4 could be colored differently, so that there was some blue at the bottom, where it is now green, suggesting a small pool and maybe a little stream.


  1. Your work and research is very much appreciated. Congratulations on such a wonderful site. The Etteilla's are endlessly fascinating.

    1. I agree, that they are endlessly fascinating. I wish I could say more. And thanks for the nice comment. If you have any questions, let me know.